Mike Parker

Hepatitis A, sometimes referred to simply as Hep-A, is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus. It can be a nasty little illness that might hang around for a few weeks or a few months, causing some particularly unpleasant symptoms, such as nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dark urine, jaundice, fever, headache, and loss of appetite. Hep- A is typically contracted when the Hepatitis A virus is taken in by mouth from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces of an infected person (ew!). And that typically is the result of an infected person (who may not even know they are infected) not properly washing his or her hands after going to the bathroom, then preparing or serving food.

Now you know what every restaurant you visit has that sign in the bathroom that says, “All employees must wash their hands before returning to work.”

Fortunately, confirmed cases of Hep-A has been on the decline in the U.S. to their lowest rate in four decades, thanks in part to the Hepatitis A vaccine which was introduced in 1995. If you contract Hep-A, the good news is, it typically runs its course, then goes away, leaving behind antibodies that will help protect you from the virus for life. Most people recover completely with no permanent liver damage. The bad news is, if you contract Hep-A, there’s really not much you can do for it, beyond the old standards of get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutrious food. If you’re like most Hep-A victims, you’ll feel sick for a few months, then start feeling better.

Like most unpleasant issues in life, an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure. When it comes to preventing Hep-A, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccination with the Hepatitis A vaccine. And wash your hands after you go to the bathroom.
 

Health

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Food Safety

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